Johannes Greber (1876-1944), ordained Catholic priest, then spiritist
His “New Testament” is used to back the Watchtower’s New World Translation in John 1:1 and Matthew 27:52, 53, and more
Also by Greber, Communication with the Spirit World of God/It’s Laws and Purpose
Born in Germany, ordained a Catholic priest, Johannes Greber then renounced his vows after engaging in a séance. He became a spiritist communicating with “God’s spirit world.” He emigrated to the United States in 1923 where he “translated” the New Testament with the aid of the mediumship of his wife.
Why is Johannes Greber important? The Watchtower Society has used him to give credibility to some of their more outrageous “translations” of the New Testament, such as John 1:1 and Matthew 27:52, 53, but there appear to be other verses the Watchtower has emulated, too.
The New Testament by Johannes Greber “translates” some of the verses word for word, or nearly so, as the Watchtower’s New World Translation. Greber explains in the Introduction (written in 1937) of the 1980 edition of his “New Testament” that “The day came, however, when I involuntarily took my first step toward such communication [with the world of God’s spirits], and experienced things that shook me to the depths of my soul…Many readers of this book [Communication with the Spirit-World: Its Laws and Its Purpose] who have sought to communicate with God’s spirit-world have had experiences similar to my own and found the same truths that I have found.”
In an open letter from the Johannes Greber Memorial Foundation found just before this Introduction [of his book], we are given the details of how Greber communicated with “God’s spirit-world”: “At times he was given the correct answers in large illuminated letters and words passing before his eyes. Other times he was given the correct answers during prayer meetings. His wife, a medium of God’s Spiritworld was often instrumental in conveying the correct answers from God’s Messengers to Pastor Greber.”
The Watchtower magazine, dated April 1, 1983, p. 31, states in “Questions From Readers?”:
“Why, in recent years, has The Watchtower not made use of the translation by the former Catholic priest, Johannes Greber?
“This translation was used occasionally in support of renderings of Matthew 27:52, 53 and John 1:1, as given in the New World Translation and other authoritative Bible versions [we know of none]. But as indicated in a foreword to the 1980 edition of The New Testament by Johannes Greber, this translator relied on ‘God’s Spirit World’ to clarify for him how he should translate difficult passages. It is stated: ‘His wife, a medium of God’s Spiritworld was often instrumental in conveying the correct answers from God’s Messengers to Pastor Greber.’ The Watchtower has deemed it improper to make use of a translation that has such a close rapport with spiritism. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) The scholarship that forms the basis for the rendering of the above-cited texts in the New World Translation is sound and for this reason does not depend at all on Greber’s translation for authority. Nothing is lost, therefore, by ceasing to use his New Testament.”
However, look what they stated in the February 15, 1956, issue of the Watchtower magazine, page 110, 27 years BEFORE the above Watchtower quote:
“10 Says Johannes Greber in the introduction of his translation of The New Testament, copyrighted in 1937: ‘I myself was a Catholic priest, and until I was forty-eight years old had never as much as believed in the possibility of communicating with the world of God’s spirits. The day came, however, when I involuntarily took my first step toward such communication, and experienced things that shook me to the depths of my soul. . . . My experiences are related in a book that has appeared in both German and English and bears the title, Communication with the Spirit-World: Its Laws and Its Purpose.’ (Page 15, ¶ 2, 3) In keeping with his Roman Catholic extraction Greber’s translation is bound with a gold-leaf cross on its stiff front cover. In the Foreword of his aforementioned book ex-priest Greber says: “The most significant spiritualistic book is the Bible.” Under this impression Greber endeavors to make his New Testament translation read very spiritualistic.
11 Spiritualism claims that there are good spirits and bad spirits and that it does not want to have anything to do with the bad spirits but tries to communicate only with the good spirits. At 1 John 4:1-3 the Bible says: ‘Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.’ Greber’s translation of these verses reads: ‘My dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to learn whether they come from God. For many false spirits have emerged from the abyss and gone out into the world, and are speaking through human mediums. This is how you can find out whether a spirit comes from God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ appeared on earth as a man, comes from God. While every spirit who seeks to destroy belief in Jesus as our Lord incarnated does not come from God, but is sent by the adversary of Christ. You have been told that such spirits would come, and they are already appearing in the world.’ Very plainly the spirits in which ex-priest Greber believes helped him in his translation.“
Let’s look at some of these verses in both the New World Translation (NWT, copyright 1961, 1981) and Greber’s “Bible”:
These following verses are “translated” in Greber’s “New Testament” in a manner very similar to the NWT. In each verse, the clear meaning of the original Greek has been changed to another meaning consistent with Greber’s theology and with the Watchtower’s theology—two theologies with much in common!
John 1:1 – NWT: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”
Greber’s “New Testament”: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and (v. 2) the Word was a god.”
Matthew 27:52, 53 – NWT: “And the memorial tombs were opened and many bodies of the holy ones that had fallen asleep were raised up. 53 (and persons, coming out coming out from among the memorial tombs after his being raised up, entered into the holy city,) and they became visible to many people.” [Why the Watchtower used Greber’s “New Testament” to bolster their own translation is beyond this writer’s understanding.]
Greber’s “New Testament”: “Tombs were laid open, and many bodies of those buried there were tossed upright. In this posture they projected from the graves and were seen by many who passed by the place on their way back to the city.”
Hebrews 1:8 – NWT: “But with reference to the Son: ‘God is your throne forever and ever, and [the] scepter of your kingdom is the scepter of uprightness.'”
Greber’s “New Testament“: “…Of His angels He says, ‘He makes the spirit-world His messengers, and flames of fire His servants.’ But of His son He says, ‘God is your throne for ever; …'”